Youth activism takes dip

Tuesday was the paper anniversary of the election that purportedly brought the US youth back to the polls and revived a long-stagnant interest in American politics.

Apparently, the honeymoon is over.

Young voters flocked to the polls in droves last November, giving the election the highest youth turnout since 1972, the first year 18-year-olds were eligible to fill out a ballot.

According to an exit poll conducted by CIRCLE, a non-partisan Tufts University research center, between 49.3 and 54.5 percent of eligible voters in the 18- to 29-year-old age range visited the booths. Of those in that bracket, 66 percent voted for President Barack Obama.

A year later, as the polls closed on several gubernatorial races scattered along the East Coast, the numbers were far less robust.

In Virginia, for example, only 39.8 percent of all registered voters cast a ballot; the number of voters under 30 decreased by 50 percent from the 2008 presidential election, according to Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

In New York, as the state was out prematurely celebrating a World Series, incumbent Mike Bloomberg eked out a win over city controller Bill Thompson, with a .6 percent lead, though pre-Super Tuesday polls favored the mayor by 70 percent. Surveys show that New Jersey Democrats had similar problems turning up at the booths.

USC has had similar problems rallying its once vocal participants; only a few dozen students voted on-campus for the Los Angeles mayoral elections last Spring, despite a heady election fever in November.

The 2008 elections elicited a huge youth turnout, something most pundits credit with Obama’s campaign. But the evident lag in recent youth activism is disappointing.

It’s time for the youth of America to reclaim the “Yes We Can” enthusiasm of aught-eight — or “Country First,” for those who swing that way. Though state races may not generate as many acoustic guitar Youtube endorsements, they nonetheless play an integral role.

It’s time for a second honeymoon.

Lucy Mueller is a junior majoring in cinema-television production, and is the Daily Trojan’s editorial director.